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Importance of Breast Cancer Screening

Importance of Breast Cancer Screening

The word cancer is scary but breast cancer for a lady may be more so because it is associated with her sexuality and body image. Breast cancer occurs when cancer cells begins to grow uncontrollably in any part of the breast. Over the last few decades cervical cancer has emerged as the number one killer cancer in women, but the way the incidence of breast cancer is rising is really devastating. It is said that over the next few year s breast cancer will be the leading killer cancer amongst women. The incidence of breast cancer ranges from 19-34% of all cancer cases in women. cervical cancer has emerged as the number one killer cancer in women, but the way the incidence of breast cancer is rising is really devastating. It is said that over the next few year s breast cancer will be the leading killer cancer amongst women. The incidence of breast cancer ranges from 19-34% of all cancer cases in women.

In India early breast cancer is seen only in 30% of the cases as opposed to 60-70% in our western counterparts. This may be due to lack of awareness in our country, lack of education and due to lack of breast cancer screening programmes. So we see that 70-80 % of Indian women will reach a doctor in an advanced stage of breast cancer.

Hence one should be aware of symptoms of breast cancer and also be aware of the screening methods available. Screening refers to the exercise of detecting cancer at its initial stage before it spreads. This increases a patient’s chance of getting cured. Finding cancer early means that it is less likely to have spread and may be at a curable stage. So screening means that simple tests are used by women in order to detect those who have breast cancer.

 In India breast cancer is detected late as opposed to cervical cancer. The reason may be that there is an opportunistic screening of cervical cancer in the form of visual examination/pap smear when the patient comes to a gynecologist. Breast cancer often goes neglected / not screened as it lies in a surgeon’s domain. In the Indian scenario many women may not consult a male for the same/ feel shy and gynecologists might not have the capability to handle breast diseases.

The most widely used tools for screening is a BSE (Breast Self Examination), CBE (Clinical Breast Examination), ultrasound/mammography.

  • BSE is an examination technique taught to a woman by the doctor in which she performs every a self screening activity every month. This helps in early detection of any abnormalities because the woman becomes ‘breast aware’.
  • CBE is the same extensive physical examination performed by the doctor. This is definitely better than BSE.
  • A mammogram is a special X ray of the breasts which can detect breast cancer 2-3years before it can be felt clinically/ by the woman.
  • Ultrasound can detect lumps especially in obese breasts / younger women where mammography is to be avoided. It can be used as an adjunct to mammography.
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